Tuesday, 7 July 2009
i read recently with sadness about the death of former NME journalist steven wells. i dont want to write about him here, i never met him and disagreed with two thirds of what he said, but i would like to talk about his legacy.
when i was a young fella, clumsy fingers desperately trying to grasp onto the smoke spiral cool of music,NME was a god send. the writers of their era saw it as their job, no their DUTY, to be more intelligent, funny, ponderous and ,of course, more musically knowledgeable than me. i bought it religiously. pored over it, every word of every article, even the ones about bands i dint like. what did this guy/girl see in this band that i didnt? what did i miss? because i TRUSTED them tho tell me the truth. to inspire me. to take me to the gigs i couldnt go to, to find out what i wanted to know about the artists i will never speak to(what i wanted to know about was the music). the did not disappoint. every Wednesday i was transported. as i read the outside world stopped. i wasn't the geeky kid in school. i wasnt the quiet paperboy, i was an NME reader,i was on the inside of the circle. i was one of 'us'.
like i said, i trusted every single one of those writers, i often disagreed with what they had written, but it was written with such verve and joy-de-vivre that i had to listen to the record again,just in case. its a boring, boorish cliche, but life would be very different without it. not just through the 'difficult' years either, imagine living in the arse end of nowhere during,say,the punk years. how would you keep abreast with what was going on without the Internet? without a 'punk' radio station? without a shop that would even stock the records? two thing made punk. john peel(who actually PLAYED the records! on radio 1!)and NME.
NME made every musical movement as vital as oxygen. how did they do this? simple. the writers never, ever, ever spoke down , condescended or dumbed down. they always expected the reader to step up to their lofty pedestal of taste and intelligence. if you got something out of a line of lyric, or even a record sleeve,if you felt the same feeling as one of the writers of the NME it was a proud, proud feeling.
i looked at this weeks copy in WHSmiths today. it had a 'promotion' desperately tryint to get kids to buy hair gel. it had a big glossy ad for topman on the back page. maybe i should be angry. im not people are intelligent enough not to buy this shit thats force fed them. what i am pissed off with is its lack of focus on music, and on its readers. it hasnt discovered a significant genre since britpop some, what, 12 years ago? ok, maybe it aint there. but why has it started treating its readers like sleepy, dim teenagers instead of blossoming young adults with interests and curiosity? why is it not providing them with proper reviews and critique?
its simple. get on the internet and rejoice in the blogs and message boards rammed with funny, insightful music fans. or, if you want to be treated like a 15 year old imbecile, buy the NME.
why has it changed from teaching how to think, to what to think?